The Point: Fake Faith Doesn’t Sell

Where’s Captain Obvious when you need him? For the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

What’s the difference between growing churches and shrinking churches? Well, taking Christianity seriously helps. A new study slated for publication in the journal, Review of Religious Research, yielded some not-so-surprising results.

Churches with what the authors called “theologically conservative beliefs” grew the fastest. By “conservative beliefs,” it’s clear they mean “churches that actually believe in the Christian faith.”

The survey found that—shocker—churches whose clergy say it’s important for non-Christians to become Christians are fifty percent more likely to grow.

Also, 71 percent of congregants in growing churches read their Bibles daily, while just 19 percent in shrinking churches do. And 56 percent of clergy in shrinking churches said they believe Jesus rose bodily from the dead; 96 percent of clergy in growing churches affirmed this core doctrine.

It’s no surprise. If you don’t preach Christianity as the true story of reality, people will just stay in bed on Sunday.

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  • Phoenix1977

    I don’t know how things are in the US but in Europe true faith doesn’t sell either. In Europe all churches are shrinking and the Catholic Church is shrinking the fastest. The area in the Netherlands where I live holds only a handful of churches where there were first countless. But most have been demolished or re-purposed. A friend of mine recently bought an old church building and is setting up her medical practice there as we speak. Only the churches that have historical or monumental value (as a building, not as an institution) are safe because they are being supported by our government.

    Religion is dying and perhaps that is not a bad thing. Without religion there would not have been crusades, purgings of heretic scientists or writers, no mutilation of gay men being castrated, no ISIS and whatsoever more. Religion was once invented to explain the things people could not explain, like why the sun rose every morning or why some years the harvest was better than others. We can actually explain those things more accurately now and religion no longer plays a role in that. The things we still can’t explain we will be able to in the future. It’s only a matter of time. And with everything we learn to explain better than religion can, religion loses a part of it’s worth until there is nothing left for religion to claim as it’s own.

    • fred2

      There are two problems with your argument. First, not every religion is negative. For example, Black people in America including myself would still be slaves if not for White Christians using prayer, politics, the Underground Railroad, and ultimately a Civil War to end slavery. It was such amazing sacrifice that caused Black people to embrace true Christianity.

      Second, religion is hardly dying in Europe much less the rest of the planet. In Eastern Europe, true Christianity has made a huge comeback after the fall of communism. In Western Europe, Islam is starting to take over because Muslims don’t find atheism or fake Christianity appealing.

      So, John Stonestreet is spot on.

      • Phoenix1977

        In Eastern Europe Christianity only makes a comeback as far as the European Union will allow it. After all, pretty much all Eastern European countries are completely dependend on money from Brussels. For example, a recent anti-abortion law in Poland was killed in parliament, even though the conservatives and Catholics have a majority there. But Brussels didn’t want that law to pass. Conservative politicians have so far refused to give any explanations. Same goes with same-sex marriage in Serbia. A referendum to amend their constitution so same-sex marriage would never come to be was won by the conservatives. However, the actual amendment was never executed. Is it a coincedence that Brussels didn’t want the Serbian constitution amended and made large funds for improving Serbia’s infrastructure available?

        Islam cannot take over Western Europe simply because they are less than 6% of the population. But more importantly, because restrictions on voting rights for immigrants it is impossible for muslims to actually make a difference politically.

        Black Americans have been opressed using religion far longer than they have been aided by it. And even in the 1960s, after the Civil Rights Act was a fact, religion was used in several court cases to fight equality between black and white Americans. It took several rulings by the United States Supreme Court to put a stop to that. Which is one of the reasons why the LGBT community is certain religious freedom will take a backseat towards anti-discrimination once cases like the Klein family hit the Supreme Court. Simply because the Supreme Court has always ruled in favor of equality and anti-discrimination.

        • fred2

          Here are a few flaws in your argument.

          First, Brexit destroyed the notion that the EU is so great that no country would want to leave it. So, if the EU keeps cracking down on religious belief, don’t be shocked if Eastern European countries exit along with the UK.

          Second, Muslims won’t stay at 6% due to high birth rates which leads to more political power. So, they will eventually take over Western European countries barring anti-Muslim expulsions or a revival that converts Muslims to Christians.

          Finally, every anti-slavery Black hero you can name was inspired by the Bible: Frederick Douglas, Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, etc. This set the stage for Black people to look to the church not atheism to fight White racism in all its forms.

          Now, you know why Black atheists are a rarity.

    • Robert Cremer

      With suppression of religious moral values we got Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong and Tojo , their score was 50 to 95 million dead. The score would have been much higher had not the Christian West stood up and stopped them. The Crusades was caused by the leaders inside and outside the “church” to fulfill political and social goals. No teaching of Jesus Christ ever pointed His followers toward violently pushing His message onto anyone.

      Jesus Christ was not invented and the evidence of his existence is overwhelming. The truths He spoke of have been tested and not found wanting. Fake half-hearted believing fails and those people either learn the truth or quit.

      Your hope in time to explain everything sounds like an invented religion to me. When you are near your time of death, please let us know how that has worked out for you.

      • Phoenix1977

        Ever considered Stalin, Mao and Tojo were reactions towards religion? Hitler defies pretty much every explanation except insanity but the others can be explained as reactionary.
        And how about the millions of deaths due to conversions by the sword after the discovery of the American continent? The Inquisition? The refusal of educating the people in Africa about AIDS? In other words, do you really want to compare numbers of death? Because the history of Christianity is written with the blood of those who opposed it and there’s lots and lots of ink left.

        The person Jesus was not invented. And he might even have been a great speaker and perhaps even a prophet. But it’s more likely he was a man, born out of wedlock from a carpenter and a maiden than being the son of a god. It’s even more likely he was a carpenter, just like his father was, with no significant life whatsoever.

        It’s not hope everything will be explained in time. It logical deduction, based on the history of humanity. 5000 years ago people didn’t know why the sun rose every day or why the season of the year altered; 500 years ago people didn’t know the earth was not the only planet in the universe; 250 years ago people didn’t know what caused infectious diseases and 50 years ago people didn’t know how to cure them; 15 years ago people learned about retroviruses and what they could do. I recently attended a meeting where a new drug against cancer was presented and, if the expectations are met, it will put a stop to cancer deaths. So imagine everything we will learn in the coming 5000 years. That is, if we don’t allow irrelevant things like religion to hold back our development as a species.